My Material Life

Red Wine Cake

Yesterday was my birthday, so I made myself a cake. My initial thought was to do another Hershey’s chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, but I’ve done so many of those this year that I thought I should do something more grown-up, something more sophisticated. Then I thought of red wine cake. This is a cake I remember making for work events when I was a junior member of a non-profit organization with a lot of women who were more worldly and sophisticated than me. The kind of women who made couscous salads. (And they still make great salads – I know this because we had a reunion last month.) This cake made me feel like I belonged in the same culinary world that they did.

Now that I’m older, I no longer worry about things like whose culinary world I belong in. But I’m so glad I remembered this cake because it really is special. A great cake for fall (which started yesterday in case you hadn’t noticed). It comes from one of my favorite California food writers, Harvey Steiman and was published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1992. I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere online, so click below for the pdf of my newspaper clipping and please enjoy responsibly.




  1. Janice

    is that your ‘yummy’ note? Cute.

    What wine do you use – Cabernet? or Zin? Maybe I’ll make it for Phil’s BD next month. Thanks for sharing!!

    PS – what ever happened to your thongs (for your feet)?

    • Yes that is my note – my mom used to do that, so I guess I was inspired by her. These days, if a recipe is not yummy I don’t bother to keep it around! I used a cabernet and it worked great. It’s amazing, when you heat the chocolate, butter and wine, it smells like you’ve got bread baking! The thongs have been added to my “to do” stash of projects – where else?! Did you mean on the blog? They would be back in older posts or filed in “misc textiles”.

  2. Happy Birthday Colleen. I was thinking of you yesterday but didn’t get around to calling. Your cake looks delicious. This, of course, is coming from one of those women who was NOT worldly or sophisticated. I’m glad to hear you don’t worry about those things anymore. I don’t either!
    Is that whip cream on top of that cake? If Bob was there he would have had a couple of pieces….he loves chocolate cake.
    Let’s get together soon an celebrate both of our birthdays.
    Love, Jo Ann

    • Thank you for the card! Love the stamp and stickers on the envelope too! Yes, that is whipped cream. It is a must with that cake. You should make it for Bob. The Hershey’s recipe that I linked to is a no-fail chocolate cake too. And, yes let’s celebrate soon – Colleen

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